New citizen adopts rights

Claudia Nuñez, secretary for President Dr. Jerry Bawcom, became a citizen during the university’s first naturalization ceremony recently. Bawcom said, “I think it was very patriotic of her, and I am happy for her and her family.” The Honorable Walter S. Smith Jr., chief district judge, presided as 349 other people received  citizenship Aug. 12. Nuñez was honored to have been a part of the historic campus event. “It was absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The university truly made it very special, not only for me, but to everyone present on that day. People kept telling me how beautiful the university was and  how warm and friendly. I feel very honored, humbled and proud. Proud to be an American.” Nuñez, who was originally born in Columbia, came to the U.S. in 1986 for political reasons. Though she still has many relatives in Columbia, her immediate family members are all American citizens. “My mother lives in Illinois and my sister in Tennessee,” she said. “My grandmother, many of my uncles, aunts, and cousins are still in Colombia, but a few live in Florida.” Nuñez wasted no time to begin taking advantage of her rights as a citizen. She said her first act as an American citizen was to register to vote. Immigration law will be an important issue for her future vote. “I have very strong feelings about the immigration process,” she said. “There is a lot that needs to be reformed and changed. We must do it with love and compassion towards those who are truly seeking a better life not only for themselves, but for their families.” Having finally completed the entire immigration process, Nuñez had this advice to give. “To those who aren’t citizens,” she said, “start early, do not wait, do not procrastinate. To those students who are born here, appreciate the rights that you have. You truly do not know how lucky you are to be born in a country that gives you many rights and freedom. Love, honor and protect your country, be grateful for your liberty and serve your country. Serve her well.” Sophomore English major Sarah Nuñez, Claudia Nuñez’ daughter, commented on her mother’s momentous day. “It was nice to see my mom become a citizen,” she said. “She’s wanted it for a long time, so I was glad to be a part of it. She’s very happy and full of pride for her new...

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Students’ time of service rewarded
Sep30

Students’ time of service rewarded

Seniors Tatenda Tavaziva and Ryan Trask reaped the benefits of their service and hard work in both the community and campus when they received the Heavin Servant Leadership award during the annual fall convocation. The accolade is based on servitude to either the campus or community, and recipients are put in the spotlight in order to serve as an example to the rest of the student body. Senior accounting major and student body president Tatenda Tavaziva received one of the awards and decided to donate $500 to Helping Hands. He said, “It is very humbling …. I could think of 20-30 people who deserve the award before me.” Tavaziva has served the community and campus by being active in First Baptist Church, Belton; leading Focus for the month of September and actively supporting the many sports teams at the university. “I really don’t think I deserve the award,” he said, “but I am excited to get it. I wish my parents were here to see it, but they are 14,000 miles away .… I feel like I have something to prove.” Senior Christian studies major Ryan Trask received the other award and designated $500 to be donated to Com-passion Inter-national, which strives to aid people affected by poverty among the world’s poorest countries. “I chose Com-passion because I really believe in the work that they do with impoverished children in the world. Com-passion does a great job of educating people (so) that they can make a significant impact in the life of a child for a very small price.” Trask served the community through Canyon Creek Baptist Church as a youth intern and has been heavily involved in campus activities, including Welcome Week and Revival. He said, “It is incredibly humbling to be a recipient of this award.” Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Steve Theodore thinks highly of both Tavaziva and Trask, saying, “Here are a couple of people who are doing it right. Watch them.” The selection process for the recipients of the Heavin Servant Leadership award includes both faculty and student nominations and the representation of a “servant’s heart” in each person. The honor is sponsored by a permanent endowment from Gary and Diane Heavin of Waco, owners of Curves. The award is intended to emphasize the importance of philanthropy, ministry and community service among UMHB students. “It is all about serving others.” Theodore expects great things from both students and knows that classmates look to them as role models and inspiration. He said, “Given what I know about them and their hearts, I would expect to see them continue to...

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The Magnificent Seven: the last of the rec majors

By Joshua Thiering You may have seen them around campus with Nalgenes dangling from their backpacks and Chocos strapped to their feet. They have an unofficial motto: “Getting paid to do what you would do for free.” But all is not well. They are  an endangered species, nearing extinction as each semester passes—similar to the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander. Only seven recreation majors remain, according to Bethany Chapman, the Institutional Research coordinator. The last granules of sand are filtering through the tear-drop shaped hourglass. The expected graduation date for the official last recreation major is May 2010, according to Jamey Plunk, recreation adviser. The program stopped accepting students in the Spring of 2007 due to accreditation guidelines, Plunk said. Because of the guidelines, “All we could do was have a minor. So we beefed up the minor from 18 to 24 hours, and that was the end of the recreation major.” Plunk added, “I know there were a lot of kids who were disappointed about that. It’s a very marketable field.” With a degree in recreation, students can get a job in resorts and leisure, cruise lines, city parks, National Parks and Wildlife and therapeutic recreation. Only two students were pursuing a degree in recreation in 2002 when Plunk came to UMHB. Upon his arrival, Plunk received permission from the department head to revamp the recreation program. When they pumped up the classes offered, numbers swelled to 35-40 students. They added classes like Adventure Racing, Triathlon Training and Rock Climbing, and the numbers increased. Plunk thought much of this was due to UMHB’s location. It takes “only five minutes to get to one lake, and ten minutes to get to another. We can go down two rivers, and there are camping places everywhere around here. The weather for the most part is cooperative 80-90 percent of the year, and business opportunities are incredible,” he said. Recreation majors may be a dying breed, but they are still incredibly optimistic about their futures. “Even on the worst of days, I will still be surrounded by nature and the activities I love,” senior recreation major Andrew Dickerson said. “In this career, I will be able to not only spend my spare time, but my life doing what I love.” After graduation Dickerson plans to open a bed and breakfast in Brazil. Lindsay Derringer chose the recreation major because she wanted to go into camp ministry. Now her aspirations have shifted. “I want to be Dr. Plunk. I want to go to Colorado State University and teach classes in the recreation field. I would love to go and do what Plunk does,” Derringer...

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Making America Home
Sep24

Making America Home

With the echo of gunshots arousing fear into the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, sophomore soccer player Imani Innocent and his cousin run with a crowd of fellow villagers. They don’t know where they are running, but they know they have to keep running. Both are just 8 years old. Goma is located on the border with Rwanda, the area ravaged by genocide between the Hutu and Tutsi that led to the violent deaths of countless people. It was a day in 1996 just like any other. “We were just eating lunch,” he said. “(Then) we heard gun shots. People were shooting. Me and my cousin just took off and left my family behind,” Innocent said. “We just followed the crowd. Everybody was running with babies on their backs and mattresses on their heads.” Innocent and his cousin spent the night next to strangers, not knowing whether their parents were dead or alive. Looking for a Familiar Face “So in the morning, we started looking in everybody’s face … to see if there was anybody that we know, like part of the family, and there was no one,” Innocent said, “So we almost gave up hope.” Soon after, one of their relatives spotted them, and they were reunited with the rest of the family. They made plans to travel the three-day journey to safety in his mother’s village, Masisi. Innocent said, “If you were in a car, they would take you out and kill you and take the car. Genocide from Rwanda was affecting the lives of people in the surrounding countries, such as the Congo. In Masisi, where his grandfather was the pastor of the local church, his family tried to get back to life as normal. “There we started all over again. We had a house,” Innocent said. He started attending school, where students were taught French and Swahili, the language spoken in central and eastern Africa. Unfortunately, peace of this small village near the border of Rwanda was short-lived. Facing Danger Again “We had everything going,” Innocent said, “but it wasn’t long before war broke out again.” This time Innocent says he was “smart enough” to stay with the family. “We all waited at the same place … we went to a bush that was nearby to hide ourselves,” he said. Within moments their ability to remain unseen behind the leaves became a matter of life and death. “My mom said, ‘I don’t trust this place. Let’s move into the bush a little bit. I don’t trust that this can keep them from seeing us.’” The family quietly made their way farther into...

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